Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to Pack – Tips from a Travel Junkie

Big Island sunset

 My first commercial flight was in 1973. Starting in 1978, I flew regularly for business and enjoyed champagne flights to Reno and Las Vegas. I’ve also done my share of road trips, cruises, and recreational travel.  I was known for carrying less luggage than all my colleagues - including the male road warriors.  Men can use some of these tips too. Here’s what I’ve learned about packing.
Packing methods are determined by the mode and purpose of travel.  I do not pack the same for all, but I always plan what I’m taking ahead of time.  I start piling items in a designated area a week before I leave.  I add to the pile until two or three days before departure.  I then edit my stack, add forgotten items, and pack, leaving room for those last minute cosmetic and snack items. I always sit on my bag to zip it, you pack lots of air in there!

Straight business

Packing for an overnight trip is simple; expand to an overhead size bag plus a slimmer laptop bag for more than one night away. For an overnight, use a laptop roller bag with a built-in overnighter section.  It fits in the overhead but not under the seat; carry a tote. Black is the wardrobe color. Take a black jacket or cardigan, a pair of pants and a skirt, and two or three tops.  A quick change is nice if dinner’s on the agenda. Wear one combo, the other carefully hang on one hanger, plastic bagged, folded and inserted in the overnight section. Wear one designated pair of shoes, sometimes squeeze in another pair, and if you share my distaste of hotel room floors, include a pair of flip flops. Undies, nightie, and accessories are stuffed either in the tote or overnighter.  To avoid checking luggage, never carry hotel-provided amenities; hotel shampoo won’t kill your hair in one use! Use the smallest containers that fit in that quart sized baggie.  Heavier vinyl bags with a zippers are available. Only carry hair tool(s) you absolutely need.  

Business with recreational travel

Staying at a private residence? Check your luggage so you can carry all your hair products, sundries, casual clothes and shoes. Use a bag that fits in the overhead but check it which frees you to add a shopping bag if needed. Carry an expanding tote bag. Packing casual clothes is different. Take whole outfits – from tanks and shorts to tops and bottoms – that go together and roll them up together.  Again, use small cosmetic containers and toss them when emptied, freeing up space for shopping!  Socks, belts, and assorted other items go into your shoes. Plan ahead by buying clothes that travel well, no ironing time needed.

Machu Picchu, Peru


If you like to dress for dinner every night use the Pullman-size bag which fits dresses, excursion wear, accessories, snorkel gear, hiking shoes, undies, nightie, a large makeup kit, (I bought a big vinyl case in which two smaller cases fit in to carry all hair and skin care items), hair tools, rain gear, and eight pair of shoes. And of course, carry the expandable tote bag which frees you up to acquire treasures. The dresses are on hangers in a wardrobe case or plastic, everything else is rolled. Extra tops, exercise clothes, and swim suits can be rolled and tucked into corners and spaces.


Given the lack of space, if you’re not booking a sleeper, use a backpack.  My niece and her hub have done Europe using trains and carrying only BIG backpacks with light frames and padded shoulder and waist straps.  Sleepers don’t have much room so the softer bags are much better than trying to stash or stack framed, wheeled bags into corners. Roll and tuck those clothes.

Sedona, AZ

Road trips

Road trip and camping packing is about the same unless it includes air travel which complicates things.
Use lightweight, carryon and gear-type bags that can be smushed into a vehicle.  If you have formal wear, hang it in plastic and place in back seat hanger clip or lay flat on top of luggage. Separate shoes into a tote or duffle, clothes rolled into another. Separate the rest of the gear, hiking and snorkeling for example, in separate bags so it’s all together; just grab that particular bag and not have to shuffle about looking for specific items. Use a hanging camping type makeup case. Whether you are staying at a hotel, residence or tent, it can be hung from a towel rack or tree. Again, small containers for personal care products. 

Combo trips – air and road

These are a challenge. I recommend you check luggage to include everything you may need and follow the previous recommendations. Two things I add – a collapsible cooler and smaller tote bag for day trips.

Got suggestions? Let’s hear ‘em!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Thou Shalt NOT Jig!

I wrote this post over a year ago and since I've not posted in a year, forgot about it.  It's still timely.  I've enjoyed Swagger rendezvous several times this year and always with the same result. Yes, I did something to my knee at the last Park Silly and have ignored it. Until now.  

I should have to write that down 100 times in small print. Why do I not remember actions have consequences? I'm not 35 anymore. Someone with untrustworthy joints should not be jumping AND jigging for an hour or two.

It's all Alan's fault. Okay, we feed off each other, if I was not so willing to jump and jig and monopolize the dance floor and entice him to keep up with me, would he? Hell yes. He's as nutzo on the dance floor as I am.

Well, Swagger is at fault too. They're so damn good at playing Irish rock, you can't just stand there or dance. It's jiggin or nothing. And I'm a bit competitive so trying to outdance the real Irish dancers who were also trying to monopolize the dance floor just egged me on.

The next day a MeetUp group did Jordanelle Res. No exercise that day except for the upper body workout doing "flag chick" in both boats. Monday was the fatal scuba day. Tuesday was the regular gym rat night. Wednesday and Thursday were spent packing for the aborted Tetons trip. Friday was down. Saturday was spent hiking above Alta and Sunday was the Park City Arts Fest. Poor Mark. I parked on the most northern row of the resort parking lot and made us walk to the top of Main and back plus a few side trips. I got home and did my nightly walkabout. Someone has to tuck in the ducks and feed the mosquitoes.

Monday, I sat on my ass - it's called working - chained to my laptop by the seemingly endless hours of concalls. When I extricated myself from my oh-so-ergonomic Allsteel chair, I limped. A lot. Fine. I cooked dinner - crabcakes, wild rice medley, tomato sauce and Norman vegies (okay vegies Normandy I think the package said). Then it was walkabout time. I pulled out my trusty padded ankle brace from last year and headed up the street. Limping. I leaned against a light pole (such a nice visual) and pulled off the sock. Limped over to the sidewalk, sat down and put it back on. I forced myself around the block and the duck pond.

Hello Instacare. Tomorrow.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Scuba Baby!

Knock another one off the bucket list! I was always intrigued by scuba diving, dive deep and see the fish, the sunken ships, coral reefs,and another world all unto itself.

My pilot friend Patrick told me to go for it and called his friends at Neptune Divers. She said, sure, come in for a scuba experience. He prodded me a bit, I told him I would as soon as I made time. Living Social came through with a deal of the day. Purchased.

There's a hitch. I have the inner ear from hell. I didn't have it until 2000. It could be Meniere's Disease, maybe vestibular migraine. Ask any doc, you get a myriad of opinions. I just learn by trial and error how to deal with it. One pole dancing class put me down for 3 days. It doesn't seem to be allergies, but barometric pressure certainly affects it. So could I scuba?

Finally made the appointment and went tonight with an open mind and little trepidation. My ENT had advised me to medicate well - decongestants, steroid nasal spray and Afrin - prior to submersion. Advice followed, for a change - I'm a strict contrarian.

The group was small, one student had his underwater camera and offered to send me the video. Since I knew I would look like a fish out of water in the water, I declined. We got in, I couldn't get to the bottom of the pool. I surfaced and the instructor wrapped a weight belt around me and the other two females. I guess that extra layer of fat (yeah it's there somewhere) we carry makes us more buoyant. Men sink.

He probably told us to stay in the four ft deep area. I headed for the deep end. I went for the bottom at nine, I made it to 8.5 ft before my ear screamed. I surfaced. Swam back to four and then returned to the deep end and dove down. Ow. Same result. Fine. I went back to the 4-5 ft and picked up the weighted fish off the bottom. I did run into my fellow students a few times and definitely made the video I'll never see.

Come to find out the instructor was a doc too. I told him I found out what I wanted to know. He said, half jokingly, I was supposed to stay in the 4 ft deep area, 9 ft is for the third lesson. Ka-ching I heard. I had fun. I had no trouble adjusting to breathing with a hose. But I got out, handed over my gear, said thanks and made my exit. Note to princesses - the accommodations are bottom drawer.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Walkabout II

Tuesday found me wending my way southeast into Arizona. Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon Dam I can't pass up, not because they don't hold memories, they do but it's a great rest stop. Many people assume all southern Utah towns are close to each other. My plan for the first day was the 238 mile journey to Bluff. There's a little thing called the Colorado River and its surrounding canyons that elongate the distance between the two.

I left Page and headed toward the Navajo power plant and on to Kayenta. I stopped for gas and had lunch at a little picnic area thoughtfully provided by the gas station. I was joined by a Navajo man, a Viet Nam vet who had also lived in Cedar City. We chatted as I ate, he told me about his life, his kids and when I prepared to leave, he said, "Sister can you spare $5, so I can get something to eat?" Feeling doubly guilty, I handed him $5 and said, "for food." He was gone when I returned to my car.

There are lots of places to stop, hike and visit - most of them are on the res but my goal for the day - not Bluff - was Monument Valley. It was incredible. I didn't do the tours, just looked over the parapet towards the monuments and watched the traffic snake by underneath, winding about the formations. Next time, I'll hire a native guide.

North of Monument Valley is the teeny, tiny hamlet of Mexican Hat. Sometimes I just know things. I thought about stopping the first night there. I think there's one or two motels. I pulled into the only gas station to make a pit stop. No could do. There was no water in the town, the clerk didn't know why and didn't seem to care, and she turned her attention back to her iPhone texting. On up the road I went. I saw a sign that said Mexican Hat lookout. I did the first of many, spontaneous, quick turns. This one was a dirt road, which I was trying to avoid, given my Acura is a low-rider. But a Prius with Cali plates made the turn ahead of me so I went for it. We both stopped just before the road eroded into sand. We had a great view of how Mexican Hat got its name. The trio piled out of the Prius as I emerged from the Acura. "I figured if you could do it, so could I," I told them.

Back to the road, pulling off to admire and photograph red rocks along the way. I drove into Bluff and out the other side, it's tiny, too but sooooooo cute. The other woman at the motel pool said she kept returning here because it was so magical. I visited the curio shop under the Navajo Twins formation, studied the adjoining greasy spoon joint's menu then drove over to the fort. It was a replica and obviously owned/operated by "the" church. I talked to a volunteer, missionary perhaps, from Salt Lake who knew Kanab people. The gaydar was singing. I exited quickly as I like authentic, in all things.

Checked into the Recapture Lodge It's world-famous because it was featured in one of Tony Hillerman's novels. That's what I read. It was very full and the people gathered outside to laugh and party till the wee hours. I wanted to get up early and get out so I stayed in and relied on chemistry rather than quiet to put me to sleep. Earlier, I wandered across the street to a locavore restaurant and sat at the counter. Two men adjacent asked if I was the bike rider. "The gal in purple?" I asked. I'd seen and remembered her too. I laughed, not me! They said I looked just like her. I took her for a twenty-something so I was doubly grateful.

The next morning, my fellow travelers and I had coffee and breakfast in the lobby. Small world that it is, they knew my friend Blake's former employer, (since college)the owner of Kanab's river running Grand Canyon Expeditions.

On the road again, I headed north, first east to Colorado to visit Hovenweep then later west to Natural Bridges, back east then north through Monticello to Moab. be continued.............


Walkabout while driving. And driving 1570 miles is quite a drive. Alone. Do you ever have those moments of supreme clarity when you just know/see what it is you must do? When I can clear the noise, the dust, and the obstacles from my thought process, it is nirvana.

I've not read Tolle's "Living in the Now" but my walkabout was all about living in the NOW. Being just a little anal, I did look at a map, do some research and made lodging reservations.

The weather was perfect, no rain, and it never got hotter than 83. The kids were still in school, my fellow travelers were my contemporaries. The traffic was light. I combined duty with a selfish desire to knock a chunk off my bucket list. Mission accomplished in both instances.

Serendipitiously, I ran into several friends, cousins and a classmate I've not seen in nearly 40 years in Alton. We made a bet while imbibing at the border bar - the Bucksin Tavern - the bar I was raised in. That's another story. The bet was $100, who'd marry first. He lost and has managed to avoid me. Until now. I called off the bet. I'm divorced, he's still married to the same woman. Kudos to them.

The family gathered at Alton cabin. It was the 27-year anniversary of its purchase. All but my sis were there. Memories are tough here but good times reign. Yes. my bro was under the house doing the ubiquitious plumbing repair as always. It was cold and mom and I kept a fire going all day without venturing out. Memorial Day found us headed south to Kanab. I spent the night in Kanab and had grand expectations of the journey not yet begun.

It was all and more. Originally, I thought I would spend time contemplating, perhaps meditating, lost in thought and come home with a raison d'etre. Not so. I spend an inordinate time alone, lost in thought every day. This was truly about getting away. From everything. I did.

Joy is being in the moment. I knew where I wanted to go, what day I would, where I'd spend the night and probably when I'd get home. Didn't matter if I didn't follow the plan. I was prepared to sleep in the car if necessary and my mother's family taught me well: never go anywhere without food and water. My trunk was full. I only pack light when I have to fly Delta.

......... to be continued........

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm Baaaaaack

News of my demise are at least, premature. Too many hours mousing and keyboarding tends to dim the desire to spread my opinions around. At least through this medium.

It's been a busy few months. Last year in retrospect, was one of the best which raises the bar for this year's performance. I'm not in the least concerned.

Change is certainly in the air. Many can feel it. I have already seen it. A new job...soon. With it a chance to do what it's taken me years to attain - to do what I love and get paid for it. It's a challenge but if you really know me, that's what gets me out of bed every morning. I can tell you, it's been really hard the last couple of months to get my carcass upright in the morning. I've even had to rely on caffeine - which is not something I have imbibed regularly for about ten years.

I've only been to San Francisco for business and Kanab for mom's birthday celebration so I feel as though I have been hibernating. That's all about to change.

First up is our annual girls trip, yes the Women Gone Wild are venturing out and about again. This will be our second trip to Tucson without Gretchen. I know she's with us in spirit, I can feel it. We're headed to Mexico for a couple of days too. Some people have expressed concern that we'd consider going to a Mexican border town. This one is relatively benign and if not, you'll read about it here!

Next up who knows? The bags like me, are always ready to go.

Yesterday was a great example. Steve, my crazy Asian - (he'll like that) invited me to dim sum and tea. I really wasn't sure if he was serious since it was a frenetic text conversation Friday night. He was. I awakened at 8 Saturday morning after 10 hours of Nyquil knockoff induced sleep, and saw his text. 10:3o ah, I had to get up. I did and even managed to get my exposed 120 film dropped off and purchased more before meeting him at the Hong Kong Teahouse. Brunch was great, I always make him order since he's the Asian and I'm never disappointed. After overdosing on tea and decongestants, I ran more errands and made my way home.

Shortly after arriving, Mark called and wanted to go walking. I suggested Parley's Gulch since I've yet to do that but then I had to call him back and we settled on a couple of laps around Sugarhouse Park. The change was precipitated by an email from my favorite pilot Patrick. He had posted Friday that he was taking his Cessna up and was looking for passengers - gratis. I had emailed and asked if he had no takers to give me a call. Only my neighbor Steve and I took him up on it. Meet you at Million Air at 4:30 he wrote. We did.

It was a beautiful spring is in the air kind of day. We circled the Oquirrhs, turned by Eagle Mountain, skimmed the lake and headed north by northeast back to SLC. Steve and Patrick flew the plane while I happily photographed from the back seat.

Back down to earth, I ate and checked Facebook to see where the Actives had settled down to dance. Good thing I looked. I could have gone alone to Canyon Inn but they had re-directed to Piper Down for Swagger. I joined them for a few hours. Dancing very closely to the stage and lots of strangers and then on the booth seats since there was more room. My water aerobics instructor who happened to be in the next booth, implored why I didn't have that kind of energy in class?

Today I only ventured out to check out the beautiful weather and dump the trash. It was catch up day and packing. While writing this, I got a very interesting phone call. Yes, change is in the air.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Boulder/Escalante Women Gone Wild Weekend

Hallelujah another short work week! Friday was runaround morning, madly packing and watering plants. Margy picked me up in her hastily packed Prius and after jamming in my stuff, I doubted we'd have room for Sue. Margy was certain we did or decided we'd make two trips to my sis' if needed.

Sue travels light. She'll go overseas for a couple of weeks with carry-ons only. We squeezed her in. Having finished her presentation,Kellie was on her way south too. We arrived at Geo's within minutes of each other then proceeded to re-pack the Prius and the MDX. Geo, Kellie and I got in the MDX followed by the Prius with the remaining two and we were off! To Smith's for a pie crust and a card for Margy's camera.

Finally, we were on our way and the Provo construction that had me delayed the previous weekend was barely a blip on our progress. Margy likes to get off I-15 at Scipio and promised we'd stop at the antique store for Geo. We did. Georgia walked in and spied a set of pink depression glass salt and pepper shakers. I took them from her and said "Happy Birthday." Then I found a green Anchor Hocking depression glass measuring cup and she relieved me of it and said "Happy Birthday" in return. We do that a lot. We've been known to confuse cashiers by purchasing then handing over the items at checkout.

On the road again, Kellie got in the Prius to drive, (Margy drives pretty slowly) and Sue joined us. Having stopped at the rest area near the Fish Lake turnoff, (great planning UDOT!), we got waylaid in Loa by the fall migration of sheep. Boulder Mountain was beautiful but most of the leaves were faded or gone.

The road was washed out and the refrigerator was on the blink we were told so we were prepared. Geo made it thru the mud to the house, the Prius was parked on drier, higher ground and we walked in the contents.

Geo scrambled to get dinner prepared (oriental chicken salad and pot stickers) and I was recruited to make the lemon creme pie for dessert. I had decided to keep a low buzz on for the weekend. When I turned over driving duties at Nephi, I pulled out my juice-box wine and got started. Sue helped me but I only let Geo have a taste as she was driving.

Dinner was great and we laughed lots. I laughed so hard and got a bloody nose - no continuous drinking for me! We retreated to bed, Margy and Geo took the loft, Sue got her own room and Kellie and I shared the master king this time. There are plenty of beds but only one bathroom, but we managed nicely, thank you. There is a guest house out back with more beds and a half bath but we've not used it.